‘Fast mouse evolution’ claims
Published: 5 February 2006 (GMT+10)
Creationists should get excited.
26 May 2003
Researchers at Chicago’s University of Illinois were able to compare DNA from present-day mice with that of museum specimens (also captured around that city) dating as far back as 1855.1 They focused on the DNA from the little powerhouses found in cells (mitochondria) that is easier to find in ancient specimens.
They concluded that there had been a dramatic genetic shift, which they labelled ‘evolution,’ in that time. One of them, Oliver Pergams, was reported as saying that ‘mitochondrial DNA does evolve much more quickly than nuclear DNA, but the timeframe was thought to be over thousands of years.’ This was the first time anything like this speed had been observed in mammals, they said.
So why do we say that creationists should get excited, not concerned? For one thing, as we’ve pointed out before, genetic changes as such are no big deal. Information reshuffling, shifts in gene frequency within populations, natural selection thinning out gene pools causing adaptation—all of these merely move around information that’s already there (see Muddy Waters).
In fact, within a given population, selection removes information. That is, creatures that are not ‘fit’ for their environment are eliminated, thus their genetic information is not passed on to the next generation.
The other main plank in neo-Darwinism, mutations (accidental hereditary copying mistakes in DNA), also do not cause an increase in genetic information. This applies even in those rare cases where the defect confers a survival advantage, so is ‘beneficial’ (see Beetle Bloopers and New eyes for blind fish?). So the changes we observe today, even though labeled ‘evolution,’ do not give even a whiff of a hint of how amebae could have blossomed progressively into aardvarks, avocado trees, and atomic physicists.
It may surprise uninformed evolutionists, but rapid diversification is an implicit prediction of the biblical Creation/Fall/Flood/Migration model. This is because the kinds on board the Ark had to diversify, even speciate, fairly quickly afterwards (dog kind into wolves, dingoes, coyotes, etc.; another kind into horses, zebras, asses, and so forth—see Speedy Species Surprise). Therefore, the faster such ‘downhill rearrangements’ can be seen to take place, the more neatly it fits the biblical model.
The reports of the Chicago mouse observations involve no suggestion that there has been any addition of new genetic information to the biosphere, such as ‘real’ evolution would have to involve (e.g., feather genes where previously there was no information for feathers anywhere in the world). Instead, we read of shifts in populations, mutations brought into the area, and so on.
When it comes to mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) there is an extra bonus. Changes in mtDNA are the basis for calculations concerning ‘mitochondrial Eve’ (or ‘African Eve’). This is a hypothetical woman (not meant by the labelers to be equated with the biblical Eve) who was living with other women at the time, but is the only one of those whose mtDNA (inherited mostly via one’s mother) was passed down to all humans living today. The calculations leading to the ‘dates’ she supposedly lived are based on assumptions about how fast mtDNA changes. These dates have ranged up to 250,000 years ago, although recent recalculations based on actual observed mutation rates in human mtDNA bring it down to around 6,000, interestingly—see A shrinking date for ‘Eve’.
This observation of ‘astonishingly’ rapid mtDNA change in mice once more brings into serious question the assumptions on which all such ‘mitochondrial dates’ are based.
The scientific community and the media insist on labeling all genetic change as ‘evolution,’ without taking into account the nature/direction of the change [see The evolution train’s a-comin’]. This is why we have to make these same sorts of basic points again and again. The average citizen, bombarded in the media by talk of ‘observed evolution,’ can hardly be blamed for thinking that it is foolish to deny the idea of goo-to-you evolution—‘Why, look, they’re saying we can see it everywhere.’ But this is, as we have shown repeatedly, purely due to a dangerously careless equivocation on the meaning of the word ‘evolution.’ In fact, the changes we see not only have nothing to do with uphill evolution, they are readily and beautifully consistent with the notion of biblical creation. They reflect the overall winding down of information since Adam’s Fall and the resultant Curse on the world (Genesis 3:15–19, Romans 8:20–22)—which will ultimately be removed to usher in a new heavens and earth (Revelation 21:1).
- For further information, see
<www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_783597.html?menu=news.scienceanddiscovery.genetics>, <www.abc.net.au/science/news/enviro/EnviroRepublish_861091.htm>. Return to text.